Sometimes it takes some pursuit to find a band to profile here. Other times, like this one, features just fall into the lap of this fortunate writer. Even though I am a blues devotee, I wasn't seeking out The Slimtones. I met guitarist/singer Steven Webber purely by chance one night. My wife and I were eating at a local Italian restaurant and Steven and his wife were seated at the table next to us. We got to talking, swapped business cards, and then I arranged to come and check out the band. Due to some technical difficulties, my interview did not quite come out. However, that is not going to stop me from featuring the band.
The Slimtones formed nearly ten years ago. "Buster and I started the band in ninety-nine with a Recycler ad looking for a harmonica player. He (Buster) showed up with a Deluxe amp and a six-pack of beer," said Webber. It is impressive enough for a local band to remain together for nearly ten years. As impressive is the speed with which the band was able to line up its first gig. "It was about a week and a half later, we booked a party. It was like 'OK, we’re working.'” Since that fateful meeting, the band has grown to six members and continues to play mostly Chicago blues in the Orange County area. "Once upon a time we had a chance to play the Doheny Blues Festival. It was the first year of major security crackdowns. While we were winding up our set, everybody was still getting searched. We played an entire set to the sound man. People came by and said, 'You sounded great but we couldn’t get in.'”
Webber's love for the blues began in the 60s when a man from Chicago played a cassette of Little Walter. "From then on, when everyone else was buying Beatles records, I was buying BB King, Albert King, any kind of blues I could get my hands on." Listening to the blues and "trying to emulate these blues players made me feel good."
Having witnessed one of the band's shows, it's safe to say that the music of The Slimtones makes its listeners feel good. At the Westside Bar and Grill in Costa Mesa, where the band has been performing for five years, there was no shortage of folks that wanted to get up and dance to the blues. "We don't really play it for the money," Webber said. "We play it for the love of playing it." That love comes through when the band takes the stage. The music does not necessarily come from instruments. It comes from somewhere deep within each member of the band.
Since Webber has had the blues and the Slimtones as a part of his life for such a long time, I felt it only fair to ask him what he'd be doing if he weren't making music. (Strangely, this was the one part of the interview that came out clearly on the recording.) "I’d probably just be sitting around like any other old man, complaining about the rest of my life. I’m happy with what I do and the fact that I have a really good woman at home makes it easy for her to be a band widow. And I can go out and do this. It doesn’t matter if our musical skills are not up to par. It’s all about having a good time. If you’re not having a good time, then why do it? That’s what we do."
For more information about The Slimtones, visit http://www.myspace.com/theslimtones.